I know. Judging by what I’ve been writing lately (and therefore thinking — or is it the other way around?), my main concern in recent times has been about… money.

In recent times? Really? Wasn’t it always like this?

True. I’m in fairly good health, and if long ago, I had to overcome big and painful dramas, which forged my slightly bipolar persona, I no longer deal with these problems on a daily basis. But let’s face it: This doesn’t make it any easier to become a bestselling author in the highly disputed life-changing calamities market.

Nonetheless, the reduced number of problems makes me at least halfway happy, let me explain. Although this topic touches on one of my greatest frustrations, I’d obviously rather enjoy a quiet maturity than keep on bleeding until the end, if you know what I mean.

Just one year ago, I thought I had found some sort of “perfect life project”: We would leave Brazil for the US, where we would build a house on the property we had chosen, and then pursue the type of retirement plan that you don’t need to pay back, the “reverse mortgage.” The mortgage lender evaluates your home, gives you half of the appraised value in cash, and when you die, there’s some kind of payment arrangement. I’m not sure what it’s like, but by then I’ll be dead, right?

I would never work again. No more troubled nights, weekends lost to solving endless problems or editing the most complex of theses, to tracking from afar elaborate printing processes in Brazil, or, in terms of being an “author,” to the inevitable fear of being rejected. All this would be left behind. We would travel at will, Alan and I, to distant and exotic destinations, no further delay, nothing else to get in our way. Everything would rhyme beautifully.

As I write this bunch of crap destined to never come true, I can hear the annoying noise of the leaf blower outside. Then I think of Brazil, of Serenity Valley, where we used to live… Our new neighborhood administrator there had tried to “please” us, by deciding to use a leaf blower that tortured us and the rest of the local residents every morning. Now, looking out the window, I can finally understand how useful a leaf blower really is… a tool that makes a lot of sense, indeed, at least in this Northern Hemisphere autumn. We had had 10 days of rain, and countless fallen leaves were scattered everywhere, leaving an impression of messiness and abandonment; now they are neatly arranged on small mounds that will soon be vacuumed up by the leaf truck, restoring cleanliness and order. Now, in our tropical Brazil, how many leaves really fall each year?

Oh well. It’s not the first time I’ve thought about Brazil since I woke up today. Imagine that when I opened the computer I received by email this month’s electricity bill, an absurd $ 144, considering that we haven’t been using the air conditioning, nor the heating. And last month’s bill had fallen to about $ 70… The comparison was intriguing, to say the least. I prepared myself to complain, despite feeling relieved for not having to deal with the scandalous 50% increase faced by my friends in Brazil, not to mention the shortage of water, the endless heat wave, the smothering of political scandals, and the precarious situation of the Minister of Finance… Tough stuff. I should be content that I’m safe from all these woes, but nothing justifies the high rate of the electric bill, right? Yes. I still indulge in our old Brazilian disgust.

Nevertheless, when I accessed the website… I found out that, in fact, we didn’t have to pay any bill. On the contrary, the company owed us! That’s correct! Apparently (I had already erased these records from my head), a year ago, when we registered with the power company, we had made a $200 deposit that is now being returned, et voilà. We will enjoy about three months of “free” energy, oba.

The whole episode reminded me of the compulsory deposits in Brazil, the “kidnapping” of our savings accounts and other “mandatory” loans to previous governments, the worrisome uncertainty as to whether we would ever recover these resources. Better not mention any of that. Imagine if our dearest Dilma decides it’s a good idea, a valuable strategy to save her sorry ass… God forbid. A bad omen, when it rains, it pours, as Mom would say.

These unhappy memories almost made me drop the subject, but now I’m resuming: While I was toting around the idea of my unprecedented retirement plan (I used to say that artists work for sheer pleasure, entertaining the idea of dying while working, but never before in this harsh existence have I ever felt so tired, needing break after break), a year went by and my credit improved. The house, however, did not show any sign of getting off the paper, until… life reconfigured itself and the hopes of an extended break sponsored by the bank ended up turning into a new publishing enterprise, according to US rules this time. And here I am again, getting ready to work until I die. And with a lot of pleasure.

But this time, I hope — the wishes of those who hope will always be granted, at least according to the American dream —, without having to kill myself from too much work, as I have done in recent years.

As for my concern about money, this too shall pass. Imagine that a year ago, when I arrived in the US, I had to accept being a “second-rate” citizen, no credit, no permanent residence, solely dependent on my own resilience. Today, I happily carry a Green Card (even if, assuming I understood correctly from watching the Republican debate, the majority of immigrants don’t give a damn), and I just received in the mail a credit card offer that will probably restore my mileage credit, which we used often in the past to travel abroad and which was left behind in Brazil. My request to move the credit up here had been denied a few months ago, and I had already forgotten, but the “system” remembered.

That’s right. Time heals everything. And what it does not mend ends up falling into oblivion: This is the great asset of the human brain, perhaps the final key to the door to happiness. I’ve even made peace with my failed “apartment herb garden.” It must be the fall, that’s all.

As for our house in Paris Mountain, we’ll keep on waiting. Sooner than expected, the construction will get off the ground. I’ll make sure to let you know.


And speaking of a new enterprise, the American dream, and an author’s most cherished dream… My first book in English, Welcome to America, has just been published and is now available on Amazon, ckeck it out. I’m hoping to add you to my band of readers around the world!

About the Author
Noga Sklar was born in Tiberias, Israel, in 1952. She grew up in Belo Horizonte and lived for 30 years in Rio de Janeiro, a city she left behind to take refuge in a paradise among the mountains of Petropolis. Noga met her American husband Alan Sklar in 2004, through the American Jewish dating site JDate. This meeting gave new impetus to her life and literary career, inspiring her first novel, “No degrees of separation” (to be published in English in 2016. She now lives in Greenville, SC, US, where she moved with her husband in October 2014.
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